Saltwater Portrait

Justin Fisher: Prodigy on drums

Twelve-year-old plays with his own band
Justin Fisher behind his drum kit. The 12-year-old Lewes native plays with his own band, Parental Guidance. BY RYAN MAVITY
February 26, 2013


For anyone over the age of 30, it’s hard to imagine what we were doing at age 12, that time of a cracking voice and an awkward transition into being a teenager.

That is not the case for Justin Fisher. With his precocious and enthusiastic nature and floppy hair, he seems like any other kid. But he’s already an accomplished drummer playing in a band with an interest in video editing.

Born at Beebe Medical Center, Justin began drumming as a 2-year-old, when his parents took him to a party where a band was playing.

“The whole time when the band was playing I just stood in the front of the stage, I just tapped my foot the whole time. I guess the drummer could kind of tell I was mesmerized by him, so at the end, at the last song, he gave me the sticks and let me tap around. Ever since then, I was sort of banging on everything,” he said.

A few weeks after that, Justin’s parents got him his first mini-drum set. A year later, at age 3, he had his first public performance.

Justin now plays in his own band, Parental Guidance with friends Garrett LaCurts on guitar and Zoe Collins on vocals. Justin is the youngest member of the band; Zoe and Garrett are both 16.

The band had its roots in a group called Major Major Minor, formed by teacher Melody Oneschuck at Justin’s school, Southern Delaware School of the Arts in Selbyville. When that project came to an end, Justin said they were having so much fun playing together they decided to form their own group.

Parental Guidance plays Justin’s favorite style of music, classic rock.

“Our favorite is probably Led Zeppelin, which is my favorite to play. John Bonham is my favorite drummer without a doubt. We play The Who, The Rolling Stones, all that kind of stuff,” he said.

Playing all over the area, especially in Ocean City, Parental Guidance won last year's Cape Henlopen’s Battle of the Bands as well as Rehoboth’s Got Talent. Justin said his favorite show was Mayday Play Day in Berlin, Md., put on by radio station Ocean 98.1.

“They open up all the streets and hundreds and hundreds of people come in. Usually we just set up in the middle of the street and just jam,” he said.

Justin also plays drums at Bethel United Methodist Church and participates in School of Rock in Wilmington, a program that teaches kids to learn play different forms of rock music, something Justin said has helped his playing.

“It’s exposed me to many different kinds of music that I’d never played before. One of the shows was called ‘Jazz Rock,’ and I started playing jazz since then. I did a couple of progressive rock shows, which was very, very challenging,” he said.

That’s not the only way Justin plans to expand his musical horizons. At school, he is taking vocal classes, concert band, jazz band and rock band.

“Half my day is music besides academics. It’s a lot of fun,” Justin said.

With one more year left at Southern Delaware School of the Arts, he’s debating where to go to high school. A Lewes native, Justin said both Cape and Sussex Tech have good music programs and he’s hoping to play in band wherever he goes. He was selected this year for All State Junior Band on the snare drum.

Of the difference between playing in a rock band and in a concert band, Justin said, “The real difference is, there’s not as many choices in what to play. With the snare it’s much more detailed music, much more rudiments (drum patterns) you can play. Because you’re only on one drum.”

Justin also helps teach drums to campers at Rehoboth Elementary School teacher Walt Hetfield’s Rock and Roll Summer Camp.

“I’ve been in that camp ever since I was 7 or 8 and it’s just a blast,” he said.

Besides music, Justin also has an interest in airplanes. He wants to get a pilot’s license someday. He’s flown many times to France, where his mother is originally from and her family still lives.

“In France I like to really hang out with my family a lot, because I don’t see them, and drive around the countryside. It’s really a beautiful place,” Justin said.

He’s also branching out into moviemaking, with an interest in editing on Apple’s Final Cut Pro. For a school project, using a green screen he got for Christmas, Justin made his own music video about Steve Jobs. He also appeared in a film called “Ping Pong Summer,” filmed in Ocean City. Although waiting for lighting was a bit frustrating, Justin said he loved the experience.

“Seeing how the professionals do it was one of the coolest things ever,” he said. “I never would have thought that much effort went into it.”

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